Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

New Rules for Testing Students with Disabilities Sparks Concern in Texas, On Special Education – Education Week

Texas is replacing its former TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) program with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. The STAAR-Alternate program is for students with severe disabilities, and allows students to be tested on simpler tasks that correspond to academic standards. However, students who are tested on only the most basic tasks will not be counted as proficient under state and federal accountability standards.

That non-proficient rating will not affect the child, but it will affect the school. The article explains that the state created the rule to nudge teachers in the direction of creating challenging assessments for students with disabilities. Educators say that in some cases, time spent trying to get students to master the tests takes away from life-skills instruction.

 Court Upholds School’s Use of ‘Timeout Room’, The School Law Blog – Education Week

A school district’s use of a “timeout room” to briefly restrain an elementary school student with developmental disabilities did not “shock the conscience” and thus did not violate the student’s constitutional rights, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The decision stems from a suit filed by an Oklahoma couple, Paul and Melinda Muskrat, on behalf of their son, identified in court papers as J.M., who was a special education student at Deer Creek Elementary School in Edmond, Okla. J.M. would sometimes yell, spit, kick, and display other disruptive behaviors in his classroom.

On an unspecified number of occasions, J.M.’s teachers would place him in the small “timeout room,” which was an enclosure large enough for a student and teacher to fit, with a light, a window, and an unlocked door, court papers say. The longest the student was placed in the timeout room on any one occasion was four minutes, the court papers say.

J.M. was between 5 and 10 years old when the timeout room was used, and at some point his parents requested that he not be placed in the enclosure. His individualized education program was amended to prohibit placing him in the timeout room, but the parents’ suit contends school officials continued to do so.

Report Says ‘Use of Force’ Incidents Increasing in Ohio DYS Facilities, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Although fewer numbers of low-level offenders are being sent to Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) centers, a Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report released last week found that personnel use of force to restrain adolescents and teens in the state’s facilities increased in 2012.

Last year, an estimated 4.69 “use of force” incidents per youth were tallied up by the Committee. Three years earlier, the estimates were just 3.74 incidents per detained juvenile. One facility — Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility — was found to have a “use of force” rate that averaged 7.31 incidents per inmate.

Illinois State House Signs off on Redirecting Most Youth Under 17 From Adult Court, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

The Illinois House approved has signed off on a bill  that would place more 17-year-olds in the state’s juvenile courts – steering more youth away from the adult system.

As it is in Illinois, youth under 17 that are, in most cases, charged with felonies are tried as adults. Under the bill, which now goes to the Senate after an 89-26 House vote, 17-year-olds charged with “lesser felonies” would have their cases heard in juvenile courts.

New Report on Video Games and Juvenile Offenders, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

A study recently published in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice argues that there may be a link between violent video games and aggressive juvenile behavior.

The study analyzed the video game playing behaviors of more than 200 young men and women involved in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system. According to the report, inclinations towards more violent games, as well as frequency of playing video games in general, may be factors in both delinquent and violent behavior among young people.

Education in Election 2012: Serving Students with Disabilities

This post is part of this week’s “Education in Election 2012” series, exploring the differences between the parties and presidential candidates on education policy.

Today, we’ll take a quick look at what the political parties and presidential candidates have done and what they plan on doing to better serve students with physical, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

The President has a “People with Disabilities for Obama” page on his campaign website that touts his administration’s accomplishments. Although Governor Romney has several group-specific pages, Governor Romney has none for individuals with disabilities. The only information I could find on the Governor’s website is a single line stating he believes that students with disabilities should be allowed to take their IDEA and TItle I funds to whichever school they choose, an extension of his and many Republicans’ belief in the value school voucher programs.

Here’s where the candidates and parties stand:

President Barack Obama:

President Obama is committed to making sure our country values the contributions of every American—including the approximately 54 million people in this country living with disabilities. The President believes America prospers when we’re all in it together; when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; and when everyone from Wall Street to Main Street does their fair share and plays by the same rules

While we’ve come farther than ever when it comes to giving all people with disabilities a fair shot and a chance to succeed, the President knows how much more work we still have left and is committed to building on the progress we’ve made. Download this fact sheet to learn more.

1. Improving Access to Healthcare and Education

  • Putting health care within reach: President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act to stop insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or disabilities. The Affordable Care Act also expands Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities.
  • Strengthening schools: President Obama understands that education is an economic imperative that should be within reach of every child. That’s why he increased funding for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state grants and other critical IDEA programs to ensure that young adults with disabilities receive the education and training that they need to compete for jobs and lead their communities. The President will work to ensure that students with disabilities are included in all aspects of our nation’s education law, including appropriately measuring achievement gaps and working to close them so every child is on track to succeed. The administration also strengthened the early intervention program under Part C of the IDEA to help improve services and outcomes for America’s infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

2. Promoting Innovation

  • Building a new era of technology: In July of 2010, the President signed the 21st Century Communications and Video Access Act, improving internet accessibility for the deaf and visually impaired communities.

3. Creating a Safer Country

  • President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the law to include protections against violence motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

4. Supporting Fair Employment

  • Hiring veterans: The President signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, doubling tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed veterans with disabilities related to their service.
  • Reaching out to workers: The President signed an executive order requiring Executive Branch departments and agencies to improve their efforts to employ workers with disabilities.
  • Including all Americans: Under President Obama, the Department of Labor proposed new standards that would require require companies with federal contracts to set a goal of creating a workforce that includes at least 7 % people with disabilities.

Governor Mitt Romney:

K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation
Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them.  Mitt’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

  • Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend By Making Title I and IDEA Funds Portable

Continue reading